Tuesday, April 19, 2011

National Poetry Month 2011, Day #19: Bum Houses

Most children call the structures they build
from boxes and bedsheets "forts."
My brother and I called them "bum houses."

We were ignornant, insensitive, and naive . . .
because everybody knows
bums don't have houses.
That's why they're bums.

We called newspapers "warmth tools,"
which sounded appropriately primitive.

Years later, when I'd grown and left home,
living in and out of my fair share
of boxes and bedsheets
for real,

I saw a group of homeless men
sleeping in a circle
on the streets of San Francisco.
They looked like a flower
with petals of rags,
brothers in arms, one another's warmth tool.

I missed my brother,
and I realized he and I had a lot to learn
about the real world
back then.

First of all,
bum houses shouldn't be played indoors.

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